Conroy Smith’s Dangerous is what veteran producer Hugh ‘Redman’ James refers to as his most successful project.
“That’s my biggest song you know!” he exclaimed during a recent interview with DancehallMag. “Dangerous in the money earner. To this day… yeah— money earner dat!”
Released in 1987, Dangerous is a timeless classic from Dancehall’s digital revolution era. The track is celebrated for its impactful bassline and Smith’s distinctive vocal style, and was a good example of how late 80s Dancehall combined traditional Reggae elements with more upbeat digital sounds that were becoming popular at the time.
It is also the biggest track for Smith, now 57, who performed the tune at the 1988 staging of Sting. His other songs inlcude Original Sound (1986), Sugar Me (1989), and Dollar Van Ride (1998) on the Joyride riddim.
On Friday, Dangerous appeared on the new anthology album, Redman International— We Run Things, which was released via VP Records on CD, Vinyl and streaming. Redman’s other “big tunes,” including Flourgon’s We Run Things, Sanchez’s Lady In Red and Old Friend, and Thriller U’s Careless Whisper, are featured on the 40-track compilation.
In the liner notes, while speaking about Dangerous, he recalled: “I remember there was this boxer, Nigel Benn, who played it every time he got in the ring but Dangerous only went to No. 2 in Jamaica and Conroy Smith, he was so upset. He said, ‘how come you mek Sanchez’s tune Old Friends go to No. 1?’ but Sanchez was the man of the moment.”
He also recounted the swift production of Dangerous. “It was maybe about an half hour [to voice],” he told DancehallMag. “The production tek about two days to complete because I mixed it down, went and mastered it, and went and released the song right away. When you have a good song, you don’t sit on it, ‘cause the artist will go back and do it for another producer.”
He reflected on the allure of his studio and the rise of the Redman International label. “Anytime you pass the studio, the line outside would be long because everybody was coming to me at that time,” he said.
“That’s because from you record a song for me, within a week you’ll be hearing it on the radio and that’s what people liked. They’d be saying, ‘ah my tune that you know? I did it for this producer Redman and I can take you to him.’ That’s why the Redman International label take off because I was flying through all barriers believe it or not.”
Redman critiqued modern Dancehall for failing to resonate on the same level, attributing this shortcoming to a lack of clarity among some artists and an overreliance on single producers or beatmakers.
“The riddim dem are not outstanding… one man a mek di riddim, it don’t work. I use computer riddim and I usually use five musicians, for I know variety is the spice of life. Yuh spend money to get money, don’t it?,” the producer said.
He added: “These deejays now, yuh cyaa hear what they’re saying and it don’t mek it. In other words, they patch di tune—they don’t do di tunes straight. In the olden days, [it was] one thing because when you come back tomorrow, it’s a different voice yuh have.”
When asked to identify any modern artist he thinks lives up to par, the producer listed Ding Dong, but only because of his catchy lyrics.
“Ding Dong, him a gwaan… but a gimmicks and gimmicks is a ting weh ketch fast and whenever you have a song and you hear di kids dem singing it, yuh know dat song hit whole heap. Yuh use di kids as the footprint,” he said.
Redman noted that he is willing to work with millennials and Gen Z’s who are willing to take direction. “Yuh have few a dem can work wid. But, when next year come, I’ll put on my shoes again and we can work together,” he said.